Friday, September 30, 2011

Red Pandas Were Pandas Before Being A Panda Was Cool

Red pandas are like your friend in college who claimed he listened to bands before they got big. They were named "panda" before giant pandas took panda coolness maintstream:
Red pandas exist in the shadow of giant pandas, but they were actually the first animals to be called "panda." In the past, red pandas have been classified with the bear family (which includes giant pandas) and with procyonids (a family that includes raccoons). Today, they are classified as the sole species in family Ailuridae.
And as these new pictures from the National Zoo show, red pandas can be just as cute as giant pandas, without being all in your face (or rip your face off) about it:

UPDATE: Twitter's @MarineGJ also points out the National Zoo's red panda cam

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pro Tips for Enjoying Fall

A few links:

Reporting to the Chewbacca Controversy

Yes, the Washington Post devoted 571 words today to examining the intricacies of Sen. Jim Inhofe's Chewbacca Defense.

The article discusses how Sen. Inhofe is very terribly, awfully, really concerned about the peer review process. And how many of those 571 words are spent discussing how many times Inhofe has addressed conferences entirely devoted to pushing non-peer-reviewed science? Come on, no time for that, there's a controversy to report to!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jim Inhofe Spends $300,000 of Your Tax Money On His Latest Climate Chewbacca Defense

The first rule of climate science denial is that you do not talk about the temperature record or human influence on it. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) follows this rule perfectly in his latest attack on climate action.

Inhofe demanded the EPA's Inspector General investigate the Obama administration's explanation for regulating carbon pollution. Why did the Obama administration have to act? Even the conservative Supreme Court told the Bush administration its explanation for not regulating carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act was indefensible.

The EPA IG report cost $300,000 of your tax dollars to produce. What did it find?
A federal investigation, requested by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) in an April 7, 2010 letter, finds that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) endangerment finding for greenhouse gases “met statutory requirements for rulemaking and generally followed requirements and guidance related to ensuring the quality of the supporting technical information.”
Wasn't that exciting? Not exactly. But to Inhofe, it's scandalous! It has to be, because to Inhofe, anything that validates climate science must not be true because he's well-compensated by the oil & coal industries to say so. And Inhofe will prove it to you by saying things that are borderline incomprehensible:
In our opinion, the endangerment finding TSD is a highly influential scientific assessment that should have been peer reviewed as outlined in Section III of OMB’s Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review.
To avoid talking about the temperature record and human influence on it, Inhofe is once again resorting to The Chewbacca Defense:

The data showing our planet is warming and man-made carbon pollution just keeps rolling in. But Sen. Inhofe doesn't want to talk to you about that. He wants to talk to you about how the EPA should actually have formally peer-reviewed the major reviews of the peer reviewed literature.

/head explodes

Office Lobbies As Proof The Human Is Not Smart

My office building has a lobby with marble floors (buffed nightly) that become extremely slick when they get wet. So every time it rains, they put mats down on the floor and security harasses people to put their umbrellas in brand-new plastic bags that the building provides.

It reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld's routine about motorcycle helmets:
There are many things you can point to as proof that the human is not smart. But my personal favorite would have to be that we needed to invent the helmet. What was happening, apparently, was that we were involved in a lot of activities that were cracking our heads. We chose not to avoid doing those activities but, instead, to come up with some sort of device to help us enjoy our head-cracking lifestyles. And even that didn't work because not enough people were wearing them so we had to come up with the helmet law. Which is even stupider, the idea behind the helmet law being to preserve a brain whose judgment is so poor, it does not even try to avoid the cracking of the head it's in.
We could just make our office building floors all-weather to prevent head-cracking falls. But instead, we continue make them completely impractical for any inclement weather, then come up with devices to help us enjoy our head-cracking lifestyles, buying mats and drilling for oil to turn into plastic bags which can then use keep our umbrella drippings from hitting the floor and prompting head-cracking falls.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Uranium Site Faces "Frequent & Pervasive" Flooding. What Could Go Wrong?

A Canadian-owned company is trying to get Virginia legislators to roll back the 30-year-old ban on uranium mining in Virginia so it can mine a multi-billion-dollar uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. But a new study from the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League warns the site - upstream from four major drinking water supply intake points - is prone to frequent flooding:
The report contains maps of Coles Hill showing the locations of three FEMA flood hazard zones aligned with Mill Creek, Whitethorn Creek, and the Banister River, all of which flow through the Coles Hill site. The maps show the location of three historic flood events that occurred within the proposed mine and mill site, including two on record with the National Weather Service, as well as the location less than two miles away where flooding associated with Hurricane Fran was videotaped in 1996. Another map contains date-stamped photographs demonstrating pervasive flooding at the site in November, 2009. Another shows the location of a spring and several acres of wetlands on the site.

The League’s report links evidence of flooding at Coles Hill with warnings from the International Atomic Energy Agency. IAEA contradicts many industry assurances that uranium mill tailing disposal sites are essentially maintenance free, stating, “There is no such thing as 'fail-safe' facilities for tailings management. Neither regulations, design specifications, nor management systems can be relied upon in isolation to provide assurance against containment failure: all three must be applied, in a framework of quality assurance and post-closure care and maintenance, to deliver a high probability of tailings containment security.”
A uranium mine site that would leave at least 28 million tons of uranium waste in a flood-prone area upstream from the drinking water for tens of thousands of people? What could go wrong?

Learn more in this video & sign the petition to keep Virginia's ban on uranium mining at

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tonight at 5pm: Join FDL's Book Salon for "Tropic of Chaos"

I'll be hosting FireDogLake's Book Salon tonight with Christian Parenti, author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. Please plan to join us at 5pm!

UPDATE: The live book salon can be found here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Will Rep. Wolf Side With Tea Party or With Children's Lungs?

Just got this email from a local conservationist:
Right now there is a bill in the House of Representatives to stop that rule from moving forward: the “Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act” (H.R. 2401). The bill blocks and indefinitely delays two of the most important clean air regulations of the past few decades – including the mercury and air toxics standards that we all advocated so hard for.

Based on our outreach here in DC, we believe that Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA 10) is yet undedicated on whether he’ll vote “party-line” in support of this bill, or stand up for public health and wildlife and oppose the TRAIN Act.
Which way will Rep. Wolf vote today? If you live in Virginia's 10th Congressional district, please call Rep. Wolf's DC office at 202-225-5136 right now. If you can't get through to Rep. Wolf's DC office, call his Herndon office at 800-945-9653 or his Winchester office at 800-850-3463.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Could a Cuban Oil Disaster Spill Oil on Virginia's Coast?

Brown Pelicans Wait for Cleaning at Ft. JacksonWith Cuba set to begin oil drilling, Anya Landau French blogs for the Christian Science Monitor that a Cuban oil spill could deliver disaster far beyond the Gulf of Mexico:
Now, after several delays, with a Chinese-built Italian oil rig, the Scarabeo 9, on its way to Cuba, drilling of the first of five exploratory wells in Cuban deep water is set to commence this December.

A spill from this first, easternmost exploratory well to be drilled by the Repsol consortium could be particularly damaging due to its location where the Gulf Stream exits the Gulf of Mexico for the Atlantic. Whereas the BP disaster was somewhat "contained" in the northern Gulf, Piñón tells me to "imagine a fan-shaped spill with the well as the axis." If something were to go wrong on Scarabeo 9, we could see and feel the effects of a major oil spill in Cuban deep water not just in Florida, but far up the Atlantic coast.
And as Fareed Zakaria writes, "the nearest and best experts on safety procedures and dealing with oil spills are all American, but we are forbidden by our laws from being involved in any way with Cuba." What could go wrong?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The New Forbes 400 is Out! Guess Who's #4?

8Anh em Charles và David Koch - Tập đoàn Koch IndustriesIt's the Koch Brothers! They rank 4th in the newest Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, up from 5th last year. In fact, the fortune of Charles and David shot up 14% just from March to September 2011.

What's most interesting - despite the Koch brothers' war on President Obama and crazily overheated rhetoric against him, the Koch brothers' fortune has grown wildly during President Obama's first term. It's up 79%, from $14 each billion in March 2009 to $25 billion each in September 2011.

Wait ... you don't think the Kochs' opposition to Obama is about an extremist political crusade and not sound economic policy, do you? Nahhh.

Opponents of Clean Energy Never Think They Sound Crazy

Foghorn Leghorn SingingOver at Time's Swampland blog, Massimo Calabresi spends hundreds of words goofily mocking clean energy, including a Foghorn Leghorn reference (really). Calabresi simultaneously claims that wind power doesn't employ enough people to be considered anything more than a "fantasy" AND that it employs so many people as to be "totally unscalable." See? Whether the wind power industry adds jobs or loses jobs, it proves his point! This is how you get to be a Beltway Insider Journalist.

That's right! Calabresi isn't an opinion columnist - he's Time's Washington correspondent. Can you imagine the demands for Calabresi to resign if he'd similarly bashed coal?

But at the end of the article, there's one sentence that pushes this article past Tired Conventional Wisdom and into Colbert-esque self-parody:
I'm all for innovation and believe in government investments to fuel it.
It may be the least self-conscious statement I've ever read. Look, just because I spent this entire column bashing innovation and government investments to fuel it doesn't mean I'm some mindless shill for our outdated, failed energy policies! Clearly I am a forward thinker, because I just said so!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bill Clinton: Climate Science Deniers Make America "Look Like a Joke"

Read more from Joe Romm at

Ask Senators Warner & Webb to Save Smart Growth Support

092011SustainableCommunitiesVirginiaJust called the offices of Sen. Mark Warner (202-224-2023) and Sen. Jim Webb (202-224-4024) and asked them to support continued investment in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. What is it?
When cities, towns and suburbs plan their future transportation, housing, water and sewer infrastructure and public services strategically, they save money and so does the federal government. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaboration between the EPA, DOT and HUD, is about making that type of planning possible. 45 regions containing 80 million Americans in rural, suburban and urban communities are already benefiting from the Partnership programs.
Investment? Planning? Of course it was cut by House Republicans in the 2012 budget, while tax cuts for the rich and subsidies for oil companies were continued. Cutting investments in America's future that cost just $527 million a year in the name of protecting tax cuts for the rich is like telling your kids you can't afford vaccines because you have to keep making payments on your Porsche.

Click the above map for an interactive look at how the program has delivered $3.4 million in targeted investments to Virginia. Doesn't sound like much, less than Washington Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan's 2011 salary, but that's exactly the point - small amounts of money well-targeted can deliver big benefits. The program has also worked closely with Virginia Tech's Metropolitan Institute.

Learn more at, find your senators at, and please call them to support this incredibly inexpensive, valuable program.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Amtrak Northeast Corridor > Flying

Flying in post-9/11 America is a unique combination of boring, stressful, and submission to authority. Taking the Amtrak from Providence to DC hasn't just been relaxing, it's been interesting. Today I've seen:

  • A fire at an industrial plant in (or just outside) New York City, with smoke pouring from the building & fire trucks out front
  • A play at the plate in a softball game (safe), which took place 300 yards from the fire
  • Four osprey fishing, likely while on their way south for the winter
  • Half a dozen people fishing, which relaxes me just watching them

Yes, it takes longer. But I've gotten a ton of work done & had a pretty good time doing it. The only downside: Amtrak's cafe car remains unfriendly to my reusable mug, but then again airline flight attendants aren't any friendlier.

New Fossil Fuel Device Charger: 7 Times the Cost of Solar

The Green Miles is on the Amtrak Regional heading back from Massachusetts, where I read about a new butane-fueled device charger being developed by a company north of Boston called Lilliputian Systems. They're expected to hit the market in 1-2 years and cost up to $200, plus up to $5 for refills of butane.

But Boston Globe technology columnist Scott Kirsner doesn't mention that there are already solar device chargers on the market ... and they're 1/7th the cost of this butane charger. The ReVIVE Solar ReStore (to pick just one well-reviewed solar device on Amazon) only costs $29. Plus you don't have to pay for charges - you can just leave it on your window sill or dashboard for free.

Lilliputian would likely counter that its device rescues people who can't/won't plan ahead enough to leave their charger in the sun, but all things being equal, wouldn't you rather think ahead a bit and keep the big pile of money?

In the wake of Hurricane Irene's power outages, I ordered a ReStore & it arrived just before I left for Massachusetts. I'll give it a trial run in the next few weeks & let you know how it works.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

You're Welcome: Biodegradable Hokies Jello Shots

From a Virginia Tech fan who'd been annoyed that jello shots involved wasting plastic cups:
It's actually quite simple, the magic is mostly in choosing a color scheme. I just halved the oranges and removed their "guts" (to use in OJ later), then put them in muffin tins and poured the jello (half water, half vodka). Next morning I cut them in half again. Then enjoy!
For bonus green points, you can compost the rinds:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Park(ing) Day Will Blow Your Mind

Think about your neighborhood. Think about how much of it taken up by parking spaces - not just marked parking spaces, but streets that are wider than they need to be for traffic so cars can park on one or both sides.

Now think about how many of those parking spaces are filled, even at peak usage times. If you're in Adams Morgan, parking's probably pretty efficiently used. But if you're in Germantown or Springfield or even many parts of Arlington, there are vast amounts of land taken up by little-used parking areas - land that could be used in myriad other ways.

Now think about what you could do with that unused land if it wasn't parking. Could you build a playground? Plant a garden? Put in some shade trees to make your summer walk to Metro a bit cooler? Open space for an off-the-charts adorable scene like this?

That's what Par(king) Day is all about. has more pictures & video from celebrations around the region.

Revisiting Arizona's Solar vs. Virginia's Coal

A few years back, I did a post about two states making divergent energy choices - Arizona picking renewable power, Virginia picking coal.

So how's solar power working for Arizona?
About 850 construction workers have descended on Gila Bend to work on the plants this summer, and about double that number are expected next year as the largest alternative-energy project in the state, the Solana Generating Station [at right], ramps up construction. [...]

Abel Ortiz, 49, of Buckeye, had been out of work for months before landing a job as a laborer at the power plant.

He said the pay assembling the solar-panel arrays was good. Normally, a labor job would pay about $8 an hour, but he's making more than $10 an hour, he said. [...]

The two small plants have a combined 34 megawatts of capacity, and Solana has 280, putting the economic benefit to Gila Bend north of $300 million from the current projects.

"These projects have been taking a lot of folks that have been unemployed and putting them to work," Geisler said.
Meanwhile, electricity prices in Virginia are up about 35 percent since 2005. Electric rates in Arizona have increased somewhat, but there's one major difference: While Arizona has incentivized efficiency, the Virginia General Assembly still tells Dominion Virginia Power to make more profit by selling you more juice.

So while Arizona Public Service Co. will be trying to cut its customers' electricity use 22 percent by 2020, Dominion Virginia Power expects demand to increase 30 percent by 2026. That means lower electricity bills in Arizona and higher electricity bills in Virginia.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Celebrating 40 Years of Pissing Off the Powerful (Video)

Happy 40th birthday, Greenpeace! (Naughty word warning.)

Last Month Was America's 2nd-Hottest August On Record

droughtThe latest State of the Climate report is out from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center. The top news:
  • August of 2011 was the 2nd-hottest ever in the United States
  • Globally, August was the 8th-hottest on record
  • So far, 2011 is Earth's 11th-hottest year on record
On top of that, not only did Texas' June through August break the record for hottest three-month stretch for any state, but Oklahoma's June through August is #2 on the list. The Dust Bowl's been pushed to third - by more than a full degree.

What's the impact of that extreme heat, and with it extreme drought? As the Texas Forest Service put it, "No one on the face of this Earth has ever fought fires in these extreme conditions."

Watch how fast the winds of Tropical Storm Lee whipped one wildfire through Texas (in real time):

Might be time for climate science deniers to face reality.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In Defense of Using Old Stuff Till It Breaks

A friend got his nice, new briefcase stolen at District Chophouse last night. Luckily his laptop, iPod, Blackberry and wallet were not inside ... but his keys were.

My friends always kid me about my giant ugly secondhand laptop backpack that's been in use for a total of about a decade and has gone through several repairs. I've thought about replacing it, but this makes me think twice. At least it screams IF I COULD AFFORD ANYTHING OF VALUE DON'T YOU THINK I'D PUT IT IN A NICER BAG THAN THIS.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Susan Collins Only In Favor of Saving Lives If Anderson Cooper's Black T-Shirt is Watching

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed limits on pollution from industrial boilers and process heaters would annually prevent 6,600 premature deaths, more than 4,000 non-fatal heart attacks, more than 1,600 cases of acute bronchitis, and more than 313,000 missed work and school days. But Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) wants to block those protections, citing an electric utility consulting group's warning that retrofitting their operations to stop killing so many people would surely cost jobs.

I know it's not surprising that Republicans - even ones the media likes to call "moderates" like Sen. Collins - are trying to take us back to the Bush-Cheney era playbook of letting the free market make the rules. You know, the strategy that gave us the worst job creation results on record.

But still, this sentence stood out:
Collins noted that her bill would exempt some regulations needed to deal with emergencies, such as threats to public health and safety.
So Sen. Collins is fine with 6,600 Americans dying prematurely as long as they do it in the quiet corner of a hospital out of the public eye. But if it's going to be a big news story, suddenly every life is precious.

Monday, September 12, 2011

One Small Recycling Event Keeps 30,632 Pounds of Electronics Out of Landfills

I was really impressed by Saturday's Fall Recycling Extravaganza here in Falls Church. There were plenty of staff, the event was well-organized, there was no line, and in no time I'd dropped off about 50 pounds of old electronics (most of that a computer & its monitor).

How much electronic equipment, potentially laden with hazardous material, was kept out of the landfill? Here's a tally from Barbara Gordon, Falls Church director of communications:
A total of 30,632 pounds or 15.3 tons of electronics and computer equipment were collected at the City of Falls Church’s fall Recycling Extravaganza on Sept. 10. Total weight of items collected and therefore kept out of the waste stream and the land fill were:
  • 19,472 pounds of electronics
  • 136 TVs, estimated at 6,120 pounds
  • 144 computer monitors, estimated at 5,040 pounds
  • Combined total 11,160 pounds of cathode ray tubes
And that's just in a Little City of 12,332. If your community isn't holding a similar event, it's not because there isn't demand.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

1880s View of Rock Creek Park: Totally Worthless

Rock Creek on 10/10/10I'm reading Henry David Thoreau's Walden for the first time and will post some more thoughts of that at a later date. But this DCist post is an interesting window into the mentality that Thoreau was pushing back against - that nature is only worth what can be extracted from it. A few years before it was made into a national park in 1890, a DC official proposed building a dam to turn the park into a reservoir. After all, it was "worthless for any other purpose, being precipitous, rocky hillside, covered with thickets of laurel and small timber."

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Decade of Global Warming-Fueled Extreme Weather in DC

Full and flowing 9-9-11 Burke LakeJust since I moved to the DC area in May 2002, we've had ...
And who knows where this week's rain will fall in the record books as we continue getting triple-teamed by tropical storms. The scary part is we're still in the very early stages of climate change. What kind of extreme weather world will our children face even a couple of decades from now?

But no need to cut our climate pollution, right John Boehner, Eric Cantor & Mitch McConnell? Best to just keep waiting it out, cashing coal & oil checks, and blaming moon volcanoes.

UPDATE 11:10am: Capital Weather Gang looks at some of this week's highest rainfall totals, with Fort Belvoir's 8.82" ranking among the highest on record. Joe Romm has a good look at this month's East Coast flooding through a historic lens.

Also, from the polluter-funded "Capital Research Center," we have a new crazy climate science denier meme: Cosmic rays! Even the article the CRC staffer links starts, "It sounds like a conspiracy theory ..." Yes! Yes it does!

Now Bottling in the Potomac: Swill Mineral Water

What do you get when you combine heavy, sustained rain, a surplus of impermeable surfaces, and a shortage of water treatment capacity? WTOP has the gory details:
Heavy rains have resulted in the D.C. sewer system overflowing into local waterways including the Potomac. D.C. Water engineers estimate about 250 million gallons of sewer overflow including raw sewage have been released into local waterways this week.

Due to these hazardous swim conditions, organizers of the 2011 Nation's Triathlon have canceled the swim portion of Sunday's event. There will be a 40K bike and 10K run only.
What's in a combined sewage overflow? You don't want to know. But if you're a glutton for punishment, has the gory details.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rick Perry: Galileo Got Harassed By Ignorant Politicians Like Me, Too!

Rick PerryAt last night's Republican presidential debate, the harshest blow may have been landed by Rick Perry ... against Rick Perry.

The Texas governor, already infamous for his climate science ignorance, somehow dug his own hole even deeper last night. Perry mangled an analogy and managed to compare himself to the religious and/or political figures who found Galileo's sun-centered model of the solar system to be an inconvenient truth:
"Galileo got outvoted for a spell," said Perry, in attempting to argue that the issue of climate change remains "unsettled." But what Perry fails to realize is the fact that the scientific community actually agreed with Galileo. It was the clergy who outvoted him, accusing him of being a heretic. "By the time Galileo was publishing on heliocentrism, the idea was already circulating and widely accepted in scientific circles, including Jesuits," explains Joshua Rosneau from the National Center for Science Education. "He wasn't outvoted by scientists, he was outvoted by the political and religious leadership of his country."

The example of Galileo would actually make a great metaphor for climate change scientists, not the deniers. Following his Galileo blunder, Perry parrots the familiar political reasoning behind brushing off the theory of climate change, one supported by the vast majority of environmental scientists--97 percent of them, in fact. Perry warns of putting "America’s economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country." But a study by the National Academy of Science and funded by Congress said bluntly that the "the environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks posed by climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts." Despite what Perry claims, climate change continues to be debated not by scientists but by politicians.
Even as his own state of Texas is ravaged by global warming-fueled wildfires, exactly in line with the predictions of climate scientists, Rick Perry still denies reality. Think it has anything to do with the more than $11 million Perry has raked in from oil companies? Heaven forbid.

Fall's Local Recycling Events Start This Weekend

Got an old computer you want to dispose of safely? Eyeglasses with an outdated prescription? Communities in our region are holding their fall recycling events, collecting a lot more than what they pick up curbside:
You can Google to find out if your community offers electronics recycling events, or see more options at the Environmental Protection Agency's eCycling.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Another Climate Denier Scandal: Will Media Ever Treat Them Skeptically?

A paper came out a couple of months ago questioning climate science. It quickly became the great shining hope of the climate science denial crowd. An actual scientific paper! Accepted by an actual scientific editor! And published in an actual scientific journal!

But a review of the paper by Roy Spencer and William Braswell published in Remote Sensing is dashing the hopes of climate deniers on the rocks of reality:
  • The paper itself? "Fundamentally flawed" and contains "false claims."
  • The editor? Apologized for accepting the paper and resigned.
  • The journal? Editorialized that the paper "should not have been published."
The question has become, how many scandals will it take for the media to apply any degree of skepticism to what climate science deniers say? Deniers hype "Climategate" - independent investigation finds no wrongdoing. Deniers attack Michael Mann - independent investigation vindicates Mann. Deniers tout work of Edward Wegman - independent investigation finds Wegman's work riddled with plagiarism & inaccuracies.

Instead, the media breathlessly hypes whatever lies the deniers push, but barely mentions the independent investigations that reveal the truth. And the scientific consensus on climate change remains as inconvenient as ever - Earth is warming, man-made carbon pollution is to blame, and we're running out of time to make the switch to clean energy as climate disasters multiply.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

1,252 Arrested at White House Protesting Tar Sands: Is President Obama Listening?

Protesters before 243 arrestsMore than 200 people were arrested Saturday in the final day of the civil disobedience urging President Obama to reject a proposed tar sands pipeline. More from
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has become the most important environmental decision facing President Obama before the 2012 election and sparked nationwide opposition, from Nebraska ranchers to former Obama campaigners. A petition with 617,428 names opposing the pipeline will be delivered to the White House today.

Over the course of the two-week sit-in 1,252 people were arrested, including top climate scientists, landowners from Texas and Nebraska, former Obama for America staffers, First Nations leaders from Canada, and notable individuals including Bill McKibben, former White House official Gus Speth, NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, actor Daryl Hannah, filmmaker Josh Fox, and author Naomi Klein.

“Back home we are fighting to protect our land and water. This week, we decided to bring that fight to the President’s doorstep,” said Jane Kleeb, Director of BOLD Nebraska, who led a delegation of Nebraskans who were arrested this morning. “We are acting on our values and expect our President to act as well.”
Despite the 1,252 arrests and about a thousand more people rallying in Lafayette Park, the White House is continuing its code of silence: "We heard not one word from them," McKibben told the New York Times.

For more details, photos and a video from Saturday's protest, check out my full post over at Blue Virginia.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

More Pollution, Higher Gas Prices: Tell Obama to Say No to Tar Sands

Tar Sands Action first day- August 20, 2011From activist Bill McKibben to actress Daryl Hannah, about 600 people have been arrested so far this week at the White House. They're protesting a planned tar sands pipeline cutting from the Canadian border all the way down to Texas.

Al Gore explains why a bipartisan coalition has come together to ask President Obama to take a stand against the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline:
The leaders of the top environmental groups in the country, the Republican Governor of Nebraska, and millions of people around the country—including hundreds of people who have bravely participated in civil disobedience at the White House—all agree on one thing: President Obama should block a planned pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico.

The tar sands are the dirtiest source of fuel on the planet. As I wrote in Our Choice two years ago, gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. This pipeline would be an enormous mistake. The answer to our climate, energy and economic challenges does not lie in burning more dirty fossil fuels — instead, we must continue to press for much more rapid development of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and cuts in the pollution that causes global warming.
Here's what's most ridiculous: The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline wouldn't cut gas prices. The company that wants to build the pipeline admits it would actually raise gas prices 15 cents a gallon in the Midwest, where it's currently forced to dump tar sands oil at a discount. Why would President Obama even consider a pipeline that would put communities, water supplies and wildlife at risk, would lock in our oil dependence, and would raise gas prices?

But with Energy Secretary Steven Chu making approving statements about the pipeline and the White House press secretary refusing to even tell President Obama about the protests, it's fair to wonder if the fix is in for dirty tar sands.

Learn more at, then tell President Obama to say no to dirty tar sands.